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Regular-article-logo Wednesday, 07 June 2023

Leg lost to bus but not will to run

Medha’s long race after disaster

Rith Basu And Snehal Sengupta Calcutta Published 17.12.18, 06:54 AM
Medha Saha (extreme left) at the start of the Champions with Disability run at the Tata Steel Kolkata 25K partnered by 
The Telegraph on Red Road on Sunday.

Medha Saha (extreme left) at the start of the Champions with Disability run at the Tata Steel Kolkata 25K partnered by The Telegraph on Red Road on Sunday. Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya

Medha Saha’s world had crumbled as, lying in a hospital bed after a bus had crushed her foot, she heard the doctor saying her left leg would have to be amputated.

“Would I be able to walk again?” the teenager, a champion athlete at the school she had just left behind, asked in a trembling voice. “Of course, you will be able to run or dance as well,” she heard Dr Manish Mukul Ghosh saying. “On an artificial leg.”

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And so she has. The 19-year-old, a second-year BTech student at Amity University in New Town, took part in the Tata Steel 25K, partnered by The Telegraph, in the Champions with Disability category with 161 others on Sunday. Across all categories, the event drew 15,000 participants.

The resident of Tobin Road near Dunlop had done it last year too, just four months after the accident, completing the 2.3km course of the Champions with

Disability event on December 17. It was easier this year, she said, because last year she was running hardly a month after receiving her prosthetic.

During her initial days of running on her artificial leg, its edges would lacerate the skin over the stump, causing bleeding.

“But later the skin hardened, so I don’t get cuts any more,” she said on Sunday.

Dr Ghosh, the plastic surgeon at Columbia Asia Hospital in Salt Lake who had performed the amputation on Medha, lauded her strength of mind.

“Initially, when we told her she could lead a near-normal life, she didn’t believe us,” he told this newspaper. “Most of the problems people with artificial legs face are psychological. But Medha had extraordinary courage and she overcame the initial trauma. There was an urge inside her to run.”

It was this courage that had led the daughter of an apparel businessman and a homemaker never to express her anguish before her parents or her younger brother, a Class IX student, even in the blackest days immediately after the accident.

“I tried not to show any despair as that would have broken my parents’ hearts,” the Gokhale Memorial Girls High School ex-student smiled. Instead, she clung to the hope held out by Dr Ghosh.

“I used to win running events at my school’s annual sports and was an active person generally. So I had wanted to believe my doctor with all my heart. I can now do 90 per cent of everything I did before,” Medha said. She has got her father to promise to teach her driving after her trainer at Ottobok Healthcare, from where she got her prosthesis, gave her the go-ahead.

The day of the accident in August last year was to be Medha’s first day in college. She was running late and decided not to wait for a direct bus to New Town. During the changeover in front of the airport gate, a bus drove over her left foot.

This year witnessed a slight rise in the number of participants in the Champions with Disability category, up from 158 to 162.

Just behind Medha were nine people on wheelchairs from Burdwan, among them Ruma Mondal, an 18-year-old student of Class VIII.

The daughter of a landless farm labourer and part-time cycle van operator had been struck with polio in both legs and could move only by using her arms to drag her body along the ground. But a couple of months ago she received a wheelchair free of cost from an NGO, Motivation India.

Not far behind Medha and Ruma on the course was Rashmi Maruvada, a 19-year-old law student in Calcutta who is completely blind. She was being guided by Anindita Mondal, whose 11-year-old daughter Anuradha has only partial vision and hearing.

Anuradha will be able to join the run next year when she turns 12.

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